TALES of climbing Mt Everest and working as a chaplain under fire in Iraq enthralled supporters, who attended a fundraising dinner for the Biggenden State School chaplaincy program on Monday night.
Guest speaker Father Morgan Batt served as a military chaplain and also travelled the world, in his aim to climb the 257 highest peaks.
“So far, I have climbed 111 of them,” he said.
As the Federal Government funds Biggenden’s chaplaincy program for only two days a week, the dinner was held to raise funds for extra days.
Padre Batt, who is still a reservist in the army, began his service as a lay youth chaplain in the YMCA aged 18 and climbed Mt Kosciuszko when he was 13.
He described his first at- tempt at climbing Mt Kenya, which ended when he had to carry his guide back to safety, after he collapsed with malaria.
“To join a climb of Mt Everest, I approached 40 tour companies, and one sponsored me for the $77,000 cost of the climb, which took seven weeks. It took two weeks to cross one glacier, with every step extremely hard work.
“I lost 16kg in weight, and one man in our group died in the attempt.”
In his message of offering hope and support to both Australian and US soldiers in dangerous conditions in Iraq, Padre Batt related how his group came under fire, while conducting a church service in the desert.
“My three aims as a padre are to be there, boots and all, to support the soldiers,” he said.
“These young men are happy and prepared to offer their lives in sacrifice.
“They love the job they do.”
INSPIRING DINNER: Joining Councillor Faye Whelan at the fundraising dinner in Biggenden were Biggenden chaplain Moira Thompson, Lisa Hardy fromScripture Union, guest speaker Father Morgan Batt and Gin Gin chaplain Darren Lawrence.